The first seven verses of Romans serve as an introduction to his readers. In most of Paul’s letters, his readers knew him personally, as they were written to churches he had established. The church at Rome did not know him personally, however, and though some of his readers knew of Paul, his conversion and ministry among the Gentiles, many doubtless had little such knowledge.
Because Romans is addressed to a church he does not know personally, and is intended as a deep exposition of the faith, his introduction here is more detailed, and is rich in key concepts which will be much expanded in later chapters.
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in powerfn by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes fromfn faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Key Focus Words
- Servant (Greek: doulos): “bond servant”, one obligated through debt or other obligation to serve a master.
- Apostle (Greek: apostolos): “one who is sent”, an ambassabor, one who speaks with the full authority of him who sent him. Generally refers to Christ’s 12 disciples (except Judas) who witnessed Him after his resurection, and to Paul, to whom the resurrected Christ appeared on the Damascus road.
- Set apart (Greek: (aphorizo) – separated, made holy, or called out for the purposes of God.
- Gospel: (Greek euangelion): The Good News of Christ, and His establishment of the Kingdom of God, salvation through faith in Him, detailed in this letter.
- Saints (Greek: hagios): Christians who are declared holy, not by their efforts, but by their standing in Christ.
- Paul’s claim to authority: To establish his bona fides to teach the doctrines of the Christian faith, he makes two assertions: 1) To be an apostle of Jesus Christ, set apart and sent by Him; 2) To address them as one who speaks for God: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Proclaiming the nature of Christ: Paul wastes no time proclaiming the true nature of Jesus Christ. He is the Messiah (Savior King) of God, spoken of throughout the old Testament by the prophets; He is truly man – “descended from David according to the flesh” — and truly God — “declared to the the Son of God in power … by His resurection from the dead”. The lineage of David is a matter of the historical record. Note, however, that Paul does not use disputable doctrinal claims about His deity, such as “born of a virgin”, miracles, verbal claims Jesus made about Himself, etc. He rests his claim to the divine nature of Christ on the fact of the resurrection from the dead.
- He declares the triune nature of God:It is the “Gospel of God” (the Father), Christ the “Son of God”, according to the “Spirit of holiness”.